Hyuuga family One-shot:

Day of Silence (Why do we have to be quiet? Where's grandpa? How are these questions connected...)

Once a year there is a day when it seems the whole world whispers. On that day my mother is quiet and thoughtful. My father keeps us up late the night before so that we wake up late and are still tired, when finally, we arise. On this day my siblings and I are quieter but none of us know why. Even the baby is quieter.

Maybe it's a feeling in the air. Maybe it's because of the feeling my mother gives off coming up to the day. Maybe it's simply because we want to be quiet once a year.

I know that it's hard to believe, but all of the above is true.

A family full of flame-casters, nullifiers, and s.e.c.-holders is quiet once a year. We often go see Grandma Yuka; however the visits on this day are different. When I step into her house on this day of quiet I feel alone. It's a day that the air whispers into your body all of the unspoken and unfulfilled promises of a lifetime. This is the heaviest, most-thoughtful, and most draining day of the year.

I had been thinking about it for hours. I was lying on my stomach on the floor in Grandma Yuka's Family Room. No one made a sound. The silence was getting to us—The Hyuuga kids. We just don't feel comfortable with complete silence.

I could feel my right hand twitching. I looked desperately at my younger sister. She glared at me in return. However, she fulfilled my silent plea.

You see, my flame was igniting. I kept defusing it; however fighting with one's self becomes tiresome. I was afraid that I wouldn't be able to hold it off for much longer so I enlisted the help of my sister. She's a nullifier and the eldest daughter in our family.

Mikan. Named for our usually energetic mother. However, as I stated before today was the exception… and it's making me crazy. I'm beginning to wonder if I am something of a pyromaniac. I am looking around frantically for something anything to burn. Then I remember that I asked Mikan to nullify my fire. Baka Natsume. I think, internally beating myself up.

I look toward my older brother, Ruka. I find that he's useless now. Ruka is asleep.

However I discover that somehow one of our younger brothers, Ryuu, is still awake. I didn't know he was awake until he steps over me to get to Mama. Oh no…

Ryuu may look like a sweet little baby, but he has a flaw. A very problematic flaw… He is brutally honest. Dad says he gets it from our mother. Back to the current situation…

"Mommy, I'm hot!" He whined bouncing up and down in front of our mother. "It's too quiet!" He continued pouting. My mother gave him an apologetic smile. The baby was lying in her crib and began to stir. She inhaled sharply, as if building a wail, but quickly pacified herself with her thumb.

"I know," she said, patting his head. Normally, mothers, especially mine, say this in an impassioned way. This time she said it emotionlessly. Her voice was completely void of cues that her mind was even in the conversation. Her eyes were filling rapidly with tears. I saw my father push himself away from the table, silently. He rose and walked around the table and moved Ryuu out of mother's line of blurring vision. Dad coaxed mom's body into a position that allowed her to lay her head on the table. Her shoulders were tightly arched until dad put a hand at the base of her neck and all her body went limp. We heard her sigh deeply like a person at a funeral, trying to catch their breath after being strangled by sobs. She seemed like her heart was breaking.

My sister and I looked on in curious amazement. Ryuu started shaking in terror.

"Natsume," my father called my name and waited until we had made eye contact to continue speaking. "Take them outside." I rose in obedience, Mikan followed with wide eyes trained studiously on our mother. I pulled my three-year-old brother up by his arm and carried him outside.

I set him on a tree stump on the lawn and sat on the edge of one of the flower beds facing him. Mikan stood beside me. Suddenly, he wailed, "I broke Mommy!" And was reduced to a fit of loud, anguished sobs. Our sister walked over and sat beside him, rubbing circles into his back. It really was a sad looking scene—a balling three-year-old being supported solely by his five year old sister. I felt I should do something, but I couldn't think of anything. Consolation has never been my specialty. I looked away.

"Ne, Nii-chan," Mikan's voice broke my revelry. "Where's Grandpa?" I stared at my two little siblings.

Finally, somewhere I could be useful. "Grandpa Yukihara… He died a long time ago. Today's his death anniversary. That's why even though we are at Grandma Yuka's she hasn't come out of her room. She's grieving."

"Oh," Mikan nodded, attempting to absorb all this new information.

Ryuu looked confused. "What's grieving?"

"It's when you lose someone and feel really bad about it," I answered.

"So, like when I got lost at the store and then me and Mommy were crying when I found her?" Ryuu volunteered.

I rolled it over in my mind. "I guess." They nodded again, accepting my explanation. "Mommy will feel better soon."

"Yeah!" Ryuu jumped up.

Just then we heard the screen door. We saw Mom coming out toward us. Dad caught her arm and pulled her back, holding the baby in his other arm, before she could trip over the step. She laughed at herself. Dad rolled his eyes and continued ushering her, tiredly. Mom still looked tired and her face was stained with tears, but she no longer gave that air of defeat. She wasn't crying helplessly anymore. Ruka ran around from behind them. He swung the car keys a little and we all got up and raced toward it. I could hear Mom giggling behind us. Yeah, she would be alright. I smiled.

I heard the car door open. Darn it! I lost. I thought glumly as I slunk over to the car and Ruka climbed to the most prized seat in our family car after putting the keys in the ignition. "That's okay," Ruka said, ruffling up my hair when I sat beside him. "Maybe when you get bigger, you'll beat me…" I looked at him. "Just kidding, I'll always be your big brother and all keep beating you until the day I die." That was it. Wait until we get home, Ruka-nii, I'll show you.